Malapianta, the reasons for the sentence: the Mannolo boss betrayed by his loquacity

CUTRO (KR) – «The guardian for me is like marriage, it is a necessary evil that must be understood. Whoever understands it is good and gets it right, whoever doesn’t understand it gets stuck ».

When they talk and rant, thinking of replacing their lawyers, talkative bosses get stuck on their own. Perhaps it also happened to Alfonso Mannolo, the elderly capobastone – or presumed one – of the ‘Ndrangheta family based in the hamlet of San Leonardo di Cutro but with projections in the Catanzaro area, in Umbria and in Veneto. His theory on guardian as a “necessary evil” illustrated in the course of very long statements – together with many other elements of accusation – cost him the sentence of 30 years in prison ordered, last May, by the Crotone Criminal Court, against the talkative accused.

It can be deduced from the reasons for the sentence resulting from the investigation of the Dda of Catanzaro and of the Guardia di Finanza of Crotone who in May 2019 conducted the “Malapianta” operation, filed in recent days by the judging panel chaired by Massimo Forciniti.

“The granitic and univocal evidentiary framework acquired was not affected by the spontaneous declarations made during the trial by Alfonso Mannolo who, while trying to reduce the gravity of his position, partially confessed to some fine crimes”.

That boundless deposition during which Mannolo, connected by videoconference from the prison where he is subjected to the harsh regime, at one point brandished an image of the Crucifix claiming that Christ has never betrayed him, sounds like even a partial admission to the scrutiny of the judges who inflicted almost 200 years of penalties in the line of the ordinary rite, in addition to the three and a half centuries arranged in the section of the abbreviated rite (which arrives on appeal Monday). In addition to the preliminary findings, there are the declarations of the numerous repentants who indicate Mannolo at the top of the coterie for which the judges believe all the crimes against him to be proven.

“According to what emerged, he was endowed with authority within the criminal consortium, carried out functions of hierarchical supremacy and regulated the life of the association also by exercising control and repressive functions on the behavior of the members”. But, above all, the sentence establishes, for the first time, that “the Mannolo clan, inserted in the” local “of ‘ndrangheta San Leonardo di Cutro, which in turn is part of a wider territorial articulation, called mandamento or province, run by the boss of Cutro Nicolino Grande Aracri and recognized by the crime of Polsi “, it presents” all the characteristics of the mafia association enucleated by the jurisprudence: the coexistence of several participants in the offenses; the stable and permanent existence of a structure capable of resisting over time and characterized by a hierarchical and organized distribution of roles and tasks as well as by the use of a mafia methodology ».

The judges recall among the examples of intimidating charge “phenomena of silence” in the depositions of a director of the Serenè tourist village, one of the accommodation facilities on which the clan exercised a yoke over twenty years, and of a victim of usury. And they note a «systematic and widespread control of the territory through the roots in the economic and entrepreneurial fabric», with a tendency to expand through the “offshoots” in Veneto and Umbria. In addition to recognizing the drug trafficking between Calabria and Umbria, the organizer of which was Antonio Ribecco, who later died of Covid in prison, who in any case obtained supplies from the Mannolos, as well as the usury and the organization of fraud against the banking system in Veneto, the ruling dwells extensively on the enslavement of tourist villages to be included in “a broader delinquent project strategically orchestrated at several levels among the ‘Ndrangheta families operating in the area”.

“Central role” from the evidentiary point of view are taken by the statements of the witness of justice Giovanni Notarianni, the Lametine entrepreneur owner of Porto Kaleo, who recounted the hardships of the structure, from the fire of the beach bar in 2003 to that of the body of the hotel in 2005 to a new fire that completely destroyed the bar in 2016, but also the extortions that occurred through periodic payments and conditioning of essential services, hiring, supplies. Immediately after the auction was opposed by the clan, Mannolo, says Notarianni, introduces himself to him “because that’s how it worked there … we immediately realized that it was a crazy extortion”.

The reference was to the claim of 250 thousand euros to be able to work in peace, a sum paid personally by Notarianni in several solutions. And then there was the fixed fee: “there was no need to explain, it was a consolidated practice, a monthly extortion on the guardian”. “I was living in a situation of total anguish, it was not possible to do business in an area where one was conditioned from A to Z,” said the witness, describing his state of mind following the damage. Even after the fires, pretending empathy, the boss and his brother Mario demanded an increase in the fee of 1000 euros for the “investigative services” carried out to ascertain who had set the fire, a request to which Notarianni did not yield. While after the third fire, telling him that he was in danger of his life because “people from Cutro” wanted to kill him, they asked him for another 50 thousand euros and this time he agreed.

“When he talked about Cutro, the delinquents, the criminals, he was very clever, it is as if there was a distinction, he was the good Mafioso let’s say, even if he did this devastating action to me”. But, “moral of the story, without him you could not go on”, and a bribe was paid for the transfer of land from agricultural builders, this time of 100 thousand euros. Things changed a bit only after the witness’s mother, Carla Rettura, denounced the boss Grande Aracri who, just released from prison, had gone to ask for a million and a half euros, according to him, invested in the village and handed over to the former companion of you, Pasquale Barberio.

So the men of the clan passed from the original “arrogant and unscrupulous attitude” for which they could not be reproached with “a more respectful and helpful behavior”, if even Remo Mannolo, son of the boss, began to carry out his duties with commitment . The judges speak of “interior drama” experienced by Notarianni and also of “understandable hesitation” with reference to the fact that he did not reveal everything immediately to the investigators, even on the occasion of the complaint against Grande Aracri, for fear of retaliation against him and his family. Especially since his mother also spoke of “feelings of fear” in the classroom, recalling the damage that occurred in the structure. The judges define Notarianni’s testimony as “clear adamantine”.

“If some extortion requests – it is said in the sentence – in particular that of 250 thousand euros absolutely without title as it is based on previous agreements with third parties and that based on the prospect of an imminent danger of life were put in place by the boss Alfonso Mannolo in a direct and brazen, those with periodic shortages, that is related to the guardianship and the “well-being” of the family, were imposed by the members of the clan Remo Mannolo and Francesco Falcone without even the need to proffer explicit threats, but through mere solicitations. These invitations could not be declined by the recipient as they constituted the reverberation of repeated intimidation ».

In this regard, Notarianni “provided an iconic representation of the climate of terror experienced over the course of 18 years”. The judges speak of “helpless failure” of the owner of a village “in fact controlled and managed by Ndrangheta gangs”. Because “To rebel against this yoke would have meant clashing alone with an ancient and deeply rooted evil in the territory, exposing oneself and loved ones to rationally unacceptable consequences”. In the end, however, the rebellion took place. And after Notarianni, other tourism entrepreneurs in the area spoke, helping to unhinge a system. And there have been new arrests.

Malapianta, the reasons for the sentence: the Mannolo boss betrayed by his loquacity – Il Quotidiano del Sud